Other PPVs DGUSA INTERNET PPV ROUNDTABLE 4/2: Radican, Donofrio, Comer, Eaton rate & review DGUSA's WrestleMania Weekend Internet PPV
Apr 7, 2011 - 12:51:41 PM
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-- 4/2 Dragon Gate USA Internet PPV Roundtable Reviews
Sean Radican, Torch columnist (9.0)
What made this show so good? Well, for months I had been looking for DGUSA to have a concrete direction to surround the excellent in-ring action with exciting storylines. Specifically, I was wondering if DGUSA had wrestlers to build around that would grab the interest of hardcore wrestling fans around the country. On this card, DGUSA presented three wrestlers well-worth building around in Akira Tozawa, PAC, and YAMATO. The kicker is that the wrestlers on the undercard and in the tag division are also grabbing my attention now more than ever.
After some technical difficulties to start the show, which were of no fault of WWNLive, viewers were presented with a string of angles, storyline development, and excellent in-ring action. I'll touch on the production values later, but I was blown away with WWNLive's quality of production compared to GoFightLive's presentation of ROH's iPPVs this weekend.
If not for Undertaker vs. Triple H, the match of the weekend would have been Tozawa vs. PAC. These two told a great story in the ring that had fans going wild by the end of the match. I've been impressed with Tozawa for a long time now, but PAC has really been grabbing my attention in the ring lately. He has the reputation of a high-flyer, but he's so much more than that. PAC's offense looks stiff and his technical ability would allow him to wrestle without resorting to high-flying (and he's among the best in the world when it comes to high-flying). I love how DGUSA is protecting PAC's German suplex finish. When PAC hits that move, the match is over.
The Open the Freedom Gate match featuring YAMATO defending against Austin Aries was another excellent match on this card. I loved how the match started with Aries going for broke and hitting the brainbuster/450 combination for a nearfall right away. Aries fought valiently with his DGUSA career on the line, although he went back on that later in the weekend and turned heel. The real story here was YAMATO. The way YAMATO carried himself in the ring against Aries made him seem like he is a credible champion that can't be defeated. Aries threw everything at YAMATO, but couldn't pin his shoulders to the mat. If DGUSA continues to put the spotlight on YAMATO and push him hard on the top of the card, fans will continue to gravitate towards the promotion.
I really enjoy the trio of Chuck Taylor, Richard Swann, and Johnny Gargano collectively known as Ronin. They cut a fun backstage promo setting up their main event match against their rivals, the Blood Warriors of CIMA, Ricochet, and Naruki Doi. This wasn't the best Dragon Gate Six Man Tag match I've ever seen, but it was darn exciting at times as both teams pulled of some incredible action. The match also dragged a bit in spots when there was simply too much going on that didn't flow together. That being said, this was a fine ending to the show and the post-match activity with PAC and Yoshino coming out to confront the Blood Warriors continued the theme of building towards their tag title match against CIMA & Ricochet on the PPV taping the next day. That match was later changed to CIMA teaming with Doi due to Ricochet suffering an injury.
I really thought the production on this show was top-notch for an Internet PPV stream. I could blow up the picture to full screen and it looked close to DVD quality. DGUSA made a great choice in turning the lights on for this show. I could see the crowd react throughout the night. I could also hear every promo, which was a nice change of pace. Hopefully GoFightLive and ROH take notice and try to match what WWNLive has done.
Other thoughts: I really enjoy Sami Callihan's character. He's grown into a very good performer and his match against Yoshino on the undercard was really intense thanks to his frenetic in-ring style... Stalker Ichickawa is hilarious. I wasn't so sure he was worth flying in, but he was so entertaining during the Six Man Elimination match, especilally when he lined everyone up and smacked them like they were young buys... This show is well-worth purchasing the replay while it's available until May 5. DGUSA is rushing the DVDs into production, so those should be available in the near future as well...
Tony Donofrio, Torch specialist (8.0)
From top to bottom this was a damn good card. I honestly can't say that there was one bad match on the card and at no point were there really any lulls in action. The hardest part about reviewing DGUSA, though, is it's lack of exposure right now. While each match was exciting and fun to watch, most of the storylines (unless you are a fan of a particular wrestler like Jon Moxley and Austin Aries) were not easy to catch on to when watching this PPV.
The match with Moxley and Arik Cannon was good while it lasted but I was hoping for a bit more. Reby Sky has become an Internet sensation and she has come a long way in the past few years. I was hoping to see more post-match between her and Trina Michaels since this feud is just getting started. I'm very curious now to see where they will go from here since Moxley is now off to WWE.
The elimination match was also strong from start to finish and even had a bit of comic relief at the beginning. There was a nice mix here of power and high flying action. Brodie Lee and Jimmy Jacobs probably have the biggest future of all the guys that were in this match and that should explain why they were the last two in the match.
The rest of the mid-card was equally impressive with the PAC vs. Akira Tozawa match really standing out. Some are saying that this match is an early Match of the Year Candidate for 2011 and at this point, I couldn't disagree with them as the year hasn't been off to too hot of a start as far as in-ring action goes.
The second half of the card was highlighted by the last two matches and I still, in my heart of hearts, don't believe that Aries is done with pro wrestling. He still has so much left in the tank and I think his love for wrestling won't allow him to say goodbye yet. Obviously, I could be wrong, but I'd hope that he'll stick around as he is loaded with in-ring talent and is very charismatic (he works much better as a heel though).
The six-man tag to end the show was high-flying and controlled chaos at its finest. There were a few botches, but that really didn't take away from the match and it was actually refreshing to see some botches. These guys are all athletes, athletes make mistakes, and it helps to legitimize pro wrestling by showing that sometimes things don't always go as planned. This is still one of the things that I like about independent wrestling. WWE tends to water down movesets in order to simplify the wrestling for the audience, make sure the action is sustainable over a full year schedule, and minimize mistakes rather than letting guys go out and put on great matches. Kudos to DGUSA, and all independent promotions, for not watering it down.
Finally, the production value for DGUSA blew away anything that ROH has done on Internet PPV. Do I blame ROH? Not so much. DGUSA recently switched to WWNLive after ditching GoFightLive (ROH's current carrier). After the first five minutes, the stream was nearly perfect with no interruptions; something I've never encountered with GoFightLive. Overall, no complaints for this show in terms of pure wrestling and production; definitely worth ordering the replay if you have $15 extra to spare.
Wes Comer, PWTorch Specialist (7.5)
Dragon Gate USA came out of the mix of WrestleMania weekend with a really fun and strong outing. The opener with Arik Cannon and Jon Moxley was a decent way to start. Moxley has turned into one of the stronger talkers at this level and he will be missed with his departure to WWE developmental. The six-way elimination was on the better end of these type of matches, highlighted by the hilarious antics of Stalker Ichikawa. His "highspot" to the floor caused me to laugh out loud, definitely worth a look. Also, AR Fox had several "did you just see that?" type moves that got the crowd going. Everyone in the match had a chance to shine, so it worked well. Masato Yoshino got a good match out of Sami Callihan, who is hit or miss for me, and Yoshino I think is the true star of Dragon Gate with his speed and awesome looking offense for his smaller size.
PAC and Akira Tozawa went out and stole the show. I am glad they took their time, spaced the match out, and built up to bigger spots. I thought every big move meant more because they took their time on the ground and incorporated more submission wrestling. Tozawa has a boatload of charisma and every little move or gesture resonates with the crowd, he is going to be huge no matter where he goes. DGUSA definitely benefits from having PAC wrestling with them and committed.
Aries and YAMATO was good, although I think I may have been a victim of too high expectations. I did like the brainbuster/450 combo to start, which forever will be a memorable sequence in the minds of wrestling fans. The main event was pretty good, although not quite great. There have been better six-mans in years past, but all six wrestlers worked hard and it's good to see new faces in the mix. Blood Warriors is a money faction right now with CIMA still being the ultimate pro, Richochet who did moves I can barely describe in English,and Doi, blending the speed and the power. Worthy of the main event slot but still not quite as good as even last year's six man.
I thought the production values were excellent and frankly exceeded my expectations. I think they are on to something with WWNLive and I can't wait to see some of the future cards because it can only get better. Overall, thumbs up to a strong, but not quite great show.
Jimmy Eaton, Torch specialist (9.0)
The video was outstanding in terms of quality after a bit of a late start. The opening match of Moxley vs. Cannon wasn't too bad despite interference. Nothing special that I remember, but I missed the first portion of the match due to the late broadcast on WWN Live. Then, there was the six-way elimination match with Jimmy Jacobs vs. Brodie Lee vs. Stalker Ichickawa vs. Silas Young vs. AR Fox vs. Jon Davis. Stalker was funny as hell, I haven't seen him before but the comedy was fun. What followed was a really good match that I'll give about three stars. Good stuff here and the crowd was hot.
Next was Open The Dream Gate champion Masato Yoshino vs. Sami Callihan in a non-title match and this one actually surprised me. I really like Yoshino, and Callihan was impressive yet again when it came to working with someone much smaller and quicker than he is. I had this about three-and-a-half stars. Then, there was one more match before intermission... and one that I won't be forgetting anytime soon.
PAC defended the Open the Brave Gate Title against Akira Tozawa in an absolute classic. I had this at four-and-three-quarters stars. It was unbelievable with a great build-up, great chemistry, and Tozawa's character continued to shine. He was way over with the crowd and sucked them in from beginning to end. PAC was his usual self which is no problem for me; his agility and springboard 450 are off the freakin' charts. I can't explain how much I liked this match and how much I want to see them in a re-match down the line. Unbelievable match worth checking out. I thought PAC would retain, but the great nearfalls at the end had me backing Tozawa to take the title.
Intermission followed and there actually were...videos! Yep, crazy concept right? Then, some Ronin highlights played followed by promotional offers to buy DVDs. At least DGUSA was trying to promote something instead of just showing a logo for 25 minutes during intermission. Not to jump on ROH and GFL too much with this, but it was a smart move on DGUSA's part.
After intermission, there were two more matches following an impromptu tag match with four guys I'm not familiar with, but Arik Cannon and Sami Callihan took them all out and argued about who's more pissed about their losses before trading punches with each other. I didn't mind this besides the language (a lot of f-bombs tonight that seemed forced, but the promos earlier with Aries and others before each match that I forgot to mention were solid) as there was a lot of good setup towards future angle on this show leading into the next one and the next PPV.
YAMATO vs. Austin Aries was next and this was another stellar match with a crazy hot opening where Aries hit the brainbuster and 450 within the first 30 seconds, but only for two. Before that, YAMATO sent Moxley to the back so he could defend the title on his own. The nearfalls were so great that I thought there would be a new champion. But, again, this one has to be seen to do it justice. Great, great action with a fine build-up to the finish of YAMATO needs two gallerias to put Aries away for the three count. He got a great ovation afterward that was well deserved. I had this around four-and-a-half stars. Again, excellent match with a nice post-match promo from Jimmy Jacobs hyping Aries's so-called final DGUSA match the following day.
Blood Warriors of CIMA, Naruki Doi & Ricochet vs. Ronin of Chuck Taylor, Johnny Gargano & Rich Swann was the main event and, while I think this match and the Open of the Freedom Gate title should have been swapped, this still delivered a strong performance from all parties involved. There were too many great spots to mention but this was worth checking out. Unfortunately, there were some blown spots, too, but in a match like this, that's going to happen, in my opinion. Everyone worked their tails off, and I was surprised the Blood Warriors went over. Also, Brodie Lee is starting to fit in with Blood Warriors when I thought it wouldn't really matter. Fun match, and another one over four stars for me at four-and-a-quarter
This is worth ordering on DVD when it comes out or ordering a replay at WWNLive.com. I thought it was by far the best Internet PPV of the weekend and had the best wrestling of the weekend. Some cons on the show were still apparent with a delayed start on the feed, a longer than expected intermission, the match quality, and some low audio at times, but those are minor things that really are overshadowed by a stellar production job for their first time on a new website. I didn't expect it to be this good, nor to be treated to wrestling that exceeded my high expectations. I typically thoroughly enjoy what ROH puts out WrestleMania Weekend, but I thought DGUSA spanked them this year. Congrats to the production team and their talent for a spectacular show.
Eaton's Note: Head over to potcf.blogspot.com for my podcast, Perspectives of the Common Fan, with a new episode talking about WrestleMania 27.
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